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Browns select Myles Garrett No. 1 overall in 2017 draft

In the end, Cleveland kept it simple.

Ending weeks of feverish speculation, the Browns on Thursday night made Myles Garrett the first overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. For most across the league, selecting the edge rusher amounted to a comprehensive no-brainer.

The Browns, though, kept everyone guessing heading into Thursday. Sashi Brown, the team's executive VP of football operations, and coach Hue Jackson never let on who the franchise planned to pick, leading some to believe that Cleveland was leaning toward North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky over Garrett.

Instead, the Browns opted for the consensus top player in this year's draft. At a mighty 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds, Garrett dazzled scouts with a monstrous scouting combine performance after logging a dominant career at Texas A&M. Boasting a wild 82 5/8-inch wingspan, the 21-year-old defender offers elite explosiveness and the ability to stand up or put his hand in the dirt.

Seen as one of the draft's true game-changers, Garrett gives the young Browns a blue-chip prospect to build around for years to come. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been handed an early Christmas gift to line up all over the field come September.

Garrett joins a unit that includes linebackers Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, promising second-year pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah and big-bodied anchor Danny Shelton. The Browns still must address their woeful secondary, but Garrett alone has the potential to change this unit for years to come.

"When that guy came down the assembly line, it was a special day for the Almighty," one scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He was feeling real good about what he was doing. You do see some lapses, but I do think he will live up to the A&M tradition of (Broncos edge rusher) Von Miller. If (Detroit's) Ziggy Ansah is a five on talent level, this guy's a six. We're talking a whole different level."

The Browns traded their No. 12 overall pick to the Houston Texans -- who selected Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. With the No. 25 pick, the team added safety Jabrill Peppers.

While the quarterback position remains a burning need for the Browns, Trubisky was never seen as a prototypical first-overall selection. Every passer in this draft is flawed, leaving Cleveland ripe for criticism had it forced a signal-caller at No. 1. Instead, Cleveland chose a player in Garrett who is seen as a Julius Peppers-level talent capable of providing the Browns with an instant identity on defense.

"It's a no-brainer," a second scout told McGinn. "If Cleveland doesn't take him, they should be kicked out of the league."

The Browns, instead, will be allowed to stay in the NFL -- and they now boast a player who might finally help pull them out of the long, dark night they've toiled in for decades.

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